Hearing resumes for patrol deputy accused of assaulting women

VISTA, Calif. -- Testimony will continue Tuesday in a preliminary hearing for a San Diego County sheriff's deputy charged with groping and sexually assaulting 16 women while on patrol.

Richard Timothy Fischer, 32, first surrendered to authorities in February after allegations surfaced months earlier that he had allegedly groped or fondled 13 women. He was charged with sexual battery, assault and battery by an officer, and false imprisonment.

In August, prosecutors added five new charges against the defendant, including forcible oral copulation, involving three more women.

A 51-year-old businesswoman testified Monday that Fischer first responded to a 911 call at an independent living facility in Vista she ran for people with mental health and drug issues about 6 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2016.

She said Fischer and his partner told her the matter had been resolved and started to leave.

Fischer came back in and said "Can I have a hug?" the woman testified.

Since it was New Year's Eve, "I didn't see any harm," the witness testified.

She said Fischer told her she was beautiful, then left.

The mother of three testified that Fischer returned in March 2017, coming into her garage which she used as an office for her business.

The woman said Fischer asked to talk privately, told her that he wasn't married and asked for another hug.

"He was flirtatious," the witness testified, saying she told Fischer the hug was not appropriate.

The woman said Fischer returned sometime between March 27 and April 4 of last year as she was getting ready for bed.

"He said he wanted to talk to me about something important," she testified.

The woman said she let Fischer in, and he pushed her onto her bed and sexually assaulted her.

Deputy District Attorney Annette Irving told Judge Daniel Goldstein at the end of a five-day preliminary hearing on the original charges earlier this year that Fischer "preyed" upon the alleged victims while on duty and in full uniform, mostly late at night.

Fischer faces more than 25 years behind bars if convicted of all charges.

At the end of the current preliminary hearing, Goldstein will determine if a trial is warranted over the five new charges against Fischer.